Bicycle traffic light

Now here’s a neat concept for bicycle commuting. The City of Portland (Oregon) installed a bicycle signal at one of its dangerous intersections. The purpose is to help bicyclists cross, especially inexperienced riders who are still uncomfortable in traffic. In a way, it also helps drivers to remember to share the road.

The setup includes a sensor and a dedicated traffic light tied into the rest of the traffic lights at the intersection. The traffic light is activated when a bicyclist rides over a marking on the trail to trigger the light. The bike traffic light then turns green; the regular traffic lights in all directions turn red, stopping all motor vehicle traffic and allowing the bicyclist to go through.

I can think of a number of intersections in the city I live in where this would be very beneficial. I  would especially like to see it available where we have major highways that are either difficult or too busy to cross. This would also help newer bicyclists realize that the city is not that scary a place to travel by bicycle.

I’m sure the technology isn’t cheap. It would require installing a signal loop in the pavement and a dedicated bicycle traffic signal, plus some time rewiring and reprogramming the motorist traffic signals. Another consideration is whether or not the sensor marking would last from our constant winter plowings (although one idea is to create an embeded marking). But costs and considerations aside, if done right, it would be better than the cost of a life or injury.

Here is a link to the video on YouTube (here’s the hyperlink in case the video doesn’t work): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwNJYtmlyqw.

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